HC Deb 21 January 1986 vol 90 cc165-6W
Mr. Walters

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he expects to respond to the report of the Library and Information Services Council "School Libraries: The Foundations of the Curriculum".

Mr. Chris Patten

There are no plans for a formal response to this report, but there have been a number of recent developments which are relevant to its concerns.

In March 1985 the Government published the White Paper "Better Schools" (Cmnd. 9649), which recognise the importance of school libraries. As "Better Schools" says, the Government believe that the function and use of school libraries and media resources should be an essential feature of the curricular policy of every local education authority and school. Schools which think through the role of the library in the curriculum are better placed to take full advantage of this important resource and so to extend the range and depth of their pupil's learning.

A report by Her Majesty's inspectorate of a survey of library provision in some secondary schools in six local education authorities, published last June, highlighted the need for a change in attitudes to school libraries. The senior chief inspector sent copies of the report to all chief education officers in England, inviting them to comment on its relevance for their schools. Comments were also sought from the Library Association and the School Library Association. Responses to the survey are under consideration.

Arrangements have been agreed with the Office of Arts and Libraries for joint visiting by Her Majesty's inspectors and library advisers from time to time. The first such visits have already taken place. Her Majesty's inspectorate has also indicated its willingness to consider appointing chartered librarians as occasional inspectors if exercises mounted in future need this expertise.

The Library and Information Services Council's report also addressed a number of recommendations to local authorities, training establishments, staffs of schools, professional bodies and others. Those recommendations are for consideration by the bodies concerned. A concerted effort is needed, within the resources available, to improve the contribution which school libraries make to the quality of education in our schools.